Bunking with family and friends can be fun — in theory. However, worn mattresses, pet odors and less-than-ideal room temperatures can deflate the highest of spirits.
Still, you should show some compassion for your host. Yes, you paid a fortune in cash, time and energy to travel to your loved one’s home. But your host also put in a lot of time, effort and cold hard cash preparing for you.
Make your stay cheerier with these rules to follow when you are a guest in someone’s home.
1. Bring a gift
It’s easy to forget how quickly the cost adds up when your host is providing extra food and taking time off work to prepare the house. A token gift shows you realize and appreciate the literal and figurative cost your host has expended.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a gift. Flowers and foods are always nice.
2. Offer to help, but don’t insist
An offer to pitch in around the house — doing dishes, clearing the table or even taking the dog for a walk — is a great way to show you appreciate the host’s efforts on your behalf.
But don’t insist. I am a host who wants to control all of the activities in my own kitchen. Not only does it help me keep track of what foods and beverages are coming in and going out, but it gives me some needed alone time, too.
Offering is terrific. But graciously accept the host’s answer if he or she declines.
3. Conserve on linens
Many hotels change bed and bath linens daily. Staying in someone’s home offers no such expectation. Sure, you can request new linens. But again, have mercy on your host.
Make do with the same towels, washcloths and sheets for as long as possible to spare your host laundry duty. The host has already done a lot. Don’t add laundry to an already bursting “to do” list.
4. Supply your own toiletries
Don’t expect the host to supply shampoo, soap, toothpaste, hand creams and other toiletries. Bring a razor, nail clippers and even a hair dryer.
Sure, if you forget something, it’s fine to ask to borrow. But if you’re driving to the host’s home and realize you forgot the soap or shampoo, stop and buy some for yourself.
5. Keep your guest room tidy
I’m a bit of a clean freak. Oftentimes, my guests aren’t. Yes, they clean up before they leave, but the sight of clothes and more strewn throughout the room adds extra stress to my life.
Sure, that’s my problem. But it’s nice when guests err on the side of caution and keep the room somewhat presentable.
6. Clean up after yourself in common areas
Food left on counters, shampoos spilled in the bathroom and other messes force your host into the housekeeper role. Don’t do that.
Even if you would leave food out at home and store it later, use extra discretion when you’re a guest. Take the extra few seconds and clean up quickly.
7. Happily join in
If your host announces dinner is at 6 p.m., cheerfully go to the table even if that’s earlier than you’d prefer to eat. If your host wants to show you photos or have you join in a game, graciously agree.
If you stay in a hotel or dine at a restaurant, you can generally create your own schedule. When you’re a guest, let the host take the lead on timing and activities.
8. Leave on schedule
Yes, your host is happy to have you stay for a while. But he or she is looking forward to returning to normal life, too. Leave when you had planned to do so.
9. Offer farewell thanks and a ‘thank you’ note
Yes, you thanked your host when you arrived and hopefully presented a gift. Thank the host again when you leave. Then, when you return home, write and mail a “thank you” note. Make the note an actual written acknowledgment, not an email. Your host went to a lot of trouble for you. Take a few extra minutes in return.